Friday, 26 January 2007

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

(*) ANTZ ****

USA: Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson, 1998

IMDB reference

Sunday, 14 January 2007


USA/UK/Germany: John McTeigue, 2005

In what is fast becoming our weekly ritual, the girlfriend (or The Countessa as she shall now forthwith be respectfully referred to) and I snuggled up this Sunday evening to watch V For Vendetta. I had succeeded in side stepping the buzz surrounding the film during the course of its theatrical release. However, I was intrigued by its rumoured play upon the Guy Fawkes legend and had been meaning to give the disc a spin at some point.

Now I know very little about the film's tortuous transition from highly respected graphic novel to big budget misfire at the UK box office. I therefore had very few preconceived expectations, aside from a feint hope the Wachowski's brothers involvement in the script but noticeable absence from direction, would serve up a better film than the last two instalments of The Matrix Trilogy. Upon reflection I would have to say that I did enjoy the film by some measure above those ill fated cash-ins. V For Vendetta is not without its flaws but within its comic book sensibilities and anti-hero tale of revolution it succeeds in raising some pertinent questions.

The film's milieu maybe that of a non too distant London in the grip of a fascist dictatorship, but the allusions to present America are unmistakable. Specifically, John Hurt's (in an ironic nod to his casting as the victim in the film adaptation of George Orwell's 1984) Chancellor Adam Sutler, the zealot who reigns supreme over this dystopian totalitarian state, can be read as a thinly veiled allegory for the current tyrannical U.S. administration of George W. Bush. For more on this theme I point you toward a full review by Michael Mackenzie. I take my hat off to Michael as his appraisal is fair and balanced rather than the "for or against" hyperbole which has been a feature of many other opinions on the film. It appears this division is in large part due to the filmmakers omitting or being fanciful with the hallowed original material. In any case I found Michael's review very informative and it offered me a greater understanding of the film.

V For Vendetta does approach the issues surrounding the West's response to the threat of terrorism. It also challenges us to consider the reality of genuine representation and recognition of the will of a country's populous in the political systems of power which operate in a democratic society. However, it must be said the film does all this in a rather silly and idealistically muddled manner. But nevertheless it still succeeds at being entertaining.

The Countessa was far less forgiving and felt this film was... "crap" to put it succinctly. I wouldn't quite go that far. It is true though, if you are not able to come to the film with an adequate suspension of disbelief, intriguing social commentary or otherwise, the film simply isn't going to hold an interest for you.

Memorable line:
"... artists use lies to tell the truth while politicians use them to cover the truth up"

IMDB reference

Friday, 12 January 2007


USA: Gary Fleder, 2003

Tonight the girlfriend and I had a night in with a takeaway and a movie. Like many I suspect, we are trying to make a concerted effort to save some money this month after an extravagant Christmas. Anyway, it was the ladies choice on this occasion (there are limits to how many gialli and the like I can talk her into watching lol!). Flicking through the channels a few nights previously it came to my attention Runaway Jury was scheduled to be shown on BBC One. I recalled the girlfriend citing this as a film she particularly enjoyed, being into the courtroom drama/John Grisham adapted Hollywood thriller type of genre. So pushing the record button on the always reliable Sky Plus Box we arrived at Friday night with our film all ready to watch.

I mention the build up and the setting (quiet night in, Sky TV and takeaway) as it wasn't dissimilar to the film. Runaway Jury is not a particularly original film nor is its execution in anyway innovative or new. It is, however, competently made with its requisite cast of attractive lead boy/girl couple (John Cusack and Rachel Weisz) and established supporting heavyweights (Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman). Much like the Domino's pizza we soon devoured, Runaway Jury is a fast, convenient fix which leaves one full but not entirely satisfied.

IMDB reference

Sunday, 7 January 2007


UK: Tristram Shapeero, 2004 (Created by Andrew O'Connor, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain)

Very entertaining second season of this intelligent and silly UK sitcom.

Score: 8/10


USA: Alfred Hitchcock, 1954

This Sunday the girlfriend and I sat down and watched Dial M For Murder. I had bought the disc some time last year and promptly added it to the growing "to watch" pile in my room. To be honest based upon what I had read from the odd review and occasional Hitch biography, I assumed the M stood for mediocre rather than masterpiece. However, far from only being notable for Hitchcock's interest in 3D at the time, Dial M For Murder is a bona-fide classic.

The film is something of a departure from Hitchcock's "man on the run" suspense pictures and is faithfully adapted from a successful stage play. To say adapted for the screen is in some ways an overstatement. To paraphrase Peter Bogdanovich, interviewed as an extra on the disc, Hitch's motto when it came to putting plays on the cinema screen was simply to shoot the page as written. This is not to say the film doesn't have some memorable shots. However, Dial M for Murder sees Hitchcock rein in his technical flair to employ his uncanny sense of economically putting the camera in just the right place to aid the development of the plot. This pushes the story to the foreground ably assisted by a quite wonderful script and superb acting.

Ray Millard is a delight as the would be mastermind behind the 'perfect crime' to off his rich wife (Grace Kelly) and his performance goes a long way to making this film the success it is. Anthony Dawson is the hapless crook coerced into Millard's plan, however, typically things do not unfold as foreseen. Any mystery surrounding the crimes is dispensed with almost immediately, but the audience is skillfully gripped from start to finish. The fact we are made aware of every machination of the lead protagonist only heightens our fascination with his eventual downfall. Highly recommended.

IMDB reference

Friday, 5 January 2007

Monday, 1 January 2007


UK: Jeremy Wooding, 2003 (Created by Andrew O'Connor, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain)

Quite simply one of the funniest UK sitcoms I've seen for years. Go watch it!

Score: 10/10

IMDB reference